16/08/2012 04:38 BST | Updated 02/03/2016 08:59 GMT

Home-Schooling Is Just As Good As School Argues Student Eli Ingle

Eli Ingle says his exam successes show it is possible to be educated at home right up to A-level.

Hundreds of families across the UK every year choose to take their children out of school and teach them at home.

But but very few continue this past GCSEs into the traditional sixth-form stage.

Eli Ingle argues the case for home-schooling

Eli, from Sheffield, already has two A*s - in business studies and sociology - and is hoping for similar high standards when he gets his psychology result later today.

He said he thought about going back to college for A-levels but he and his family had enjoyed his home education so much he wanted to carry on.

"To me, that was like going back to school in a lot of ways which was exactly what I didn't want to do," he said.

"So it just seemed like a natural progression to move on to doing the A-levels."

Eli, who is the grandson of the well-known Sheffield boxing trainer Brendan Ingle, has been educated at home since the age of 13.

His sister Niamh, 17, has also been home-educated.

Asked what the best things are about learning outside the traditional school environment, he said: "There are so many really.

"It's so wide-ranging and there's so many opportunities I feel I've got that I would never have got at school.

"I've expanded my social range and I have managed to do all these qualification.

"It shows that you don't necessarily have to have an organised school environment to do it, there are other routes out there that work just as well."

Eli said: "I've just enjoyed every minute."

Pressed to identify any down-sides, he said: "Not that I know of. I'm not just saying that as well. I've just enjoyed it so much I don't really know of any down-sides."

He said people assume the biggest problem is isolation, and he is always asked whether he misses the social interaction of school life.

He said: "I think they imagine you staying at home most of the time and it's just not like that at all.

"It's not what people think.

"If anything I've got a better social life than I had at school."

Eli said there around 150 families home-educating their children in Sheffield alone and many come together in a network to provide a rich variety of social, sporting and other experiences.

His mother, nurse Jill Ingle, 45, said she and her husband, firefighter Brendan Ingle, 47, have no teaching background and have seen their role more as guides than instructors.

"We're definitely not an academic family," Mrs Ingle said.

"I've been as surprised as the next person to find we have managed to do it. But it's all credit to them, really. They are really the one's who have done it on their own."

But Mrs Ingle admitted the decision to continue the home learning into A-levels was a little daunting.

She said she could not think of anyone else who had taken this step totally independently.

And she tells of one conversation with an exam board official who expressed total bafflement that they did not have a specialist tutor for Eli's business studies A-level.

She said: "I came off the phone and I felt like lying down and putting a cold flannel over my head and thinking 'what on earth are we doing, we've gone too far this time'.

"It's your responsibility. If he fails, people are going to be pointing the fingers at you."

But she said Eli's A* success in the subject made her feel like calling the board back and putting them straight.

She believes Eli's results have vindicated the family's choices and he is now enjoying doing a business and management degree at Sheffield Hallam University - a course he decided to take after seriously considering doing higher education at home too.

Mrs Ingle said the decision to home educate her two eldest children did not come about due to any great principled decision.

She said Niamh encountered problems in Year Five and they took her out of school temporarily. Even though the problems were resolved and she went back for a time, the family had tasted a form of education they liked.

"It was like a door opening to this world that we didn't know existed," she said.

They decided to home educate Niamh and her elder brother decided it was going so well he wanted to do the same.

Now the family are considering a similar route for the youngest of the family - three-year-old Seth.

Mrs Ingle said the home-educating community includes families with a range of motivations for taking their children out of school.

She said some people aim to replicate the school day and curriculum whereas others move away completely from what they see as the constraints of exams and syllabuses.

Mrs Ingle says her family has taken a middle road, deciding to get conventional qualifications in order to maximise future opportunities.

But she said she knows home-educated children who have got into Oxford and Cambridge having taken no exams whatsoever.